The phases of culture shock are as follows:
- The "Honeymoon Phase" - During this period the differences between the old and new culture are seen in a romantic light, wonderful and new. For example, in moving to a new country, an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the life, the people's habits, the buildings and so on.
- The negotiation phase - After a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, minor differences between the old and new culture are resolved. One may long for food the way it is prepared "back home," may find the pace of life too fast or slow, may find the people's habits annoying, etc.
- The "Everything is OK" phase - Again, after a few days, weeks or months, one grows accustomed to the new culture's differences and develops routines. At this point, an individual no longer reacts to the new culture positively or negatively, because it no longer feels like a new culture. An individual becomes concerned with basic living again, as they were in their original culture.
- Reverse Culture Shock - Returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above.
- Seeing so many different kinds of people--shapes, colors, and sizes. There is so much diversity here--also, I never realized how many seniors reside in Victoria (the retirement capital of Canada)!
- The fashion: wait a minute, where did all the high heels, mini skirts, and summer dresses go? Multiple layers? No more campus couples? I did notice that the "baby doll" look is catching on here, along with the layers and stripes (and even neon shoes).
- The language: in Korea we didn't understand people's conversations. It was just "extra noise"...after landing we could hear everyone's conversations--even ones we didn't want to! The funniest is when we were on the bus (I sold my car before we left) and listening to all sorts of funny things people say.
- The manners: Canadians are a polite bunch--sometimes too polite! I was inside a Thrifty Foods grocery store and I moved my cart literally two inches to the side to give an old lady more room. I wasn't even close to hitting her, but she noticed what I did and said "Why thank you!". I was shocked...in Korea, I would be getting my heels bashed in at Costco!
- Walking down the street: umm...can someone please tell me why people are actually moving to avoid running into me? When I'm approaching someone, we both move to get out of each other's way. If someone even slightly graces me, I will hear some sort of extended apology.
- Tipping in restaurants: WTF?! In Korea, tipping is not mandatory. In Canada, it's normal to tip 10-20%, depending on where you are dining at. On top of this, meals are expensive after tax. Man, does it ever add up! You're looking to spend almost $10 each after tax and tip for a decent meal. In Korea, $10 would feed two people pretty well.
- Seeing English signage: Umm...what happened to entire buildings plastered in Korean signage, from the windows to the walls? I can read again!
- Life is slow: after coming from a busy metropolis of 12-14 million people, life on the island is SLOW! I'm used to a jam packed day running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Here it's relaxing and very laid back...too...laid...back...ZZZZzzzzzz
- Red lights are no longer just a suggestion: this one is huge. When I see that little green man at crosswalks, I can be confident (most of the time at least!) that cars, taxis, buses (white gloved ajoshis for life, baby), and the non-existent delivery men on scooters will STOP for me!
- Personal space: coming from one of most densely populated cities in the world to seeing large areas of open space is WEIRD. Where did all the apartment towers go? Why don't condo towers here have numbers painted down the sides? It was really weird to see so much open space, especially the greenery. Air is so fresh here, especially with the ocean breeze. AH-SAAA! I sure do miss smelling someone's random body odor on the subway though...
- The internet...oh wait...I'm still on the internet, so that hasn't changed. D'oh!
What are you experiences with either culture shock or reverse culture shock? Fill me in!